Official taxis are generally not hailed in the road, but ordered by phone. Firms typically take around 30 minutes to deliver a car to pick you up, and can take longer according to traffic and weather conditions. You can also order a taxi in advance for a set time, if you have firm plans. The dispatcher will ask for your telephone number and the driver will call you when he arrives. You should not expect dispatchers to speak English, although you may get lucky at companies that market directly to an international audience (see below). It’s still best to use the assistance of a Russian speaker.
Rates are typically negotiated based on a set destination. A trip to the airport is usually the most expensive, and will cost about 1,000 RUR from the centre for an economy car. Trips to other destinations may be negotiated for far lower costs. You can also book an official taxi by the hour (usually one full hour is the minimum charge in this case). In the daytime, an hour-long economy ride costs 300 to 400 RUR, business-class is around 500 RUR, and a VIP-class vehicle costs over 1,000 RUR an hour. It may cost 15 percent more if you need the car after 9 PM.
Economy-class taxis in Moscow tend to be local VAZ, GAZ or inexpensive foreign cars. Business-class cars are usually more comfortable foreign brands. Many companies also offer VIP-taxi services using luxury Nissans, Fords, Mazdas, Citroens, Audis, Hyundais, BMWs, and Mercedes.
Some companies may be able to provide an English-speaking driver. It is always, however, wise to you have your destination written down in Cyrillic.
The following official taxi companies provide information online in English and have English-speaking drivers available.
New Yellow Taxi
5,000 vehicles with GPS navigation and drivers in uniform.
+7 (495) 940 88 88
Business Car Service
Provides business-class cars and also bodyguards and interpreters.
+7 (495) 411 99 44
For everyday needs, many Muscovites, and seasoned expats, travel by unofficial taxi – in Moscow, every car is potentially a taxi. To hail them, stand at the edge of the street with your arm out at a 30 degree angle. A car should stop within a few minutes at most. You should state clearly your destination and the price you’re willing to pay. As you negotiate the price, additional cars may get in queue hoping that either the firstcar is not going your way, or is refusing the fare.
Most destinations within the Garden Ring can be reached for 100 RUR. Beyond that, rates are more negotiable. From the center, 250 RUR is a normal price for destinations beyond the 3rd Ring. To reach the MKAD, expect to pay 500 RUR and up.
While this system appears a lot like hitchhiking, and many travel resources advise against it, it is not exactly comparable. In typical hitchhiking, when no money changes hands, you either find someone very bored, very friendly, or with suspicious motives. While riskier than an official taxi, the “unofficial taxi” is a simple business agreement between two people, based on a set of un-written, but commonly known rules. However, you should apply the same common sense approach to unofficial taxis as you would to hitchhiking. For example, try not to travel alone, if you do have to travel alone then let people know where you are. Don’t get in the taxi if you feel uncomfortable. Don’t flash around a wallet full of cash or an expensive piece of technology.